Monthly Archives: January 2014

Now, will we get snow?

So, it’s been cold. Lovely.

This weekend it might get warm. Close to 50 in Boston, and in to the 30s in most of New England, with a few inches of slop.

Then comes the fun. There are three (3) storms showing up on the models right now for the week from February 3 to 10. The first, on February 3, is way off the coast on the GFS, but the ECMWF gives a few inches of snow to southern New England. We’ll wait and see on that.

The second looks to move west-to-east across New England around February 5. This is not an optimal set-up, but as it redevelops off the coast it should dam up enough cold air that most of New England remains snow, or maybe has some ice on top. It’s an interesting storm with thicknesses which aren’t particularly supportive of snow, but enough cold air to keep thins frozen (and warm air very high aloft, so sleet if it does change). This is not perfect—we’d rather see some explosive development off the coast—but 6 to 12 inches of snow over most of the region is nothing to scoff at.

Looking further out, there is a rumor of a storm around the 9th or 10th. Lots up in the air with this, but models have had it pasting a foot of snow over various parts of New England. Some show a blizzard in New Jersey, some in Vermont. We’ll have to wait and see. And while some slightly warmer temperatures are a bit worrisome, three potential storms in one week is nice to see after a couple of dry weeks.

Floored by this pattern

Winters may come and winters may go—we’ve seen both conditions so far in January. But for at least the next two weeks, it appears that winter may come, and have some staying power.

The #PolarVortex is coming, with plans to stick around. The last few model runs for the GFS have been pretty consistent in showing below normal temperatures for the whole of the northeast for the next two weeks. For instance, the latest 12Z run shows for the next two weeks:

  • Boston: High 34, Low 4, 1.38″ of precipitation (~1-2 feet of snow, mostly week two)
  • Berlin, NH: High 21, Low -22, 1.04″ (~1-2 feet)
  • Burlington, VT: 22, -19, 0.96
  • and similar weather from Caribou to Saranac Lake.

While this isn’t atypical, it’s a very stubborn pattern. I’d much rather take it over the foot-of-snow-inch-of-rain we saw for the start of the winter. If we can squeeze out a foot of snow every two weeks with no thaws, it will set up a very nice second half of the season.

(Oh, and at this rate, the ice on the Charles will be good for skiing in about a week.)


The weather looks … great?

The most recent storm dumped a foot and a half of light, fluffy powder. In Southeastern Mass. There was a sharp cutoff north and west of Boston, with only a few inches outside of 128. And nothing up in ski country. But unlike most of the storms this winter, the pattern doesn’t appear to be conspiring to send a plume of warm air to melt it all away. It’s cold enough that any warm air that does arrive on Saturday will just spread some light snow about, perhaps a few inches to freshen conditions.

And then? More cold. More snow. And several opportunities for a proper storm. It would be nice to have more of a base, but it’s hard to have a pattern that looks better than what we are looking at for the next few weeks.

This is what we’ve been waiting for

Things look … good?

Yes, indeed they do. We’ll start off with a nice coastal storm. 6-12 inches from the New Hampshire border south. Light, fluffy snow, over, in most places, an icy base, so it won’t just be covering rocks and twigs. Some blowing, but a very nice hit. What’s interesting is that best skiing in New England may well be at places like Great Brook Farm in Massachusetts and Harris Farm in Maine, while parts of Vermont are still mostly barren.

And then? Cold! If the models verify, Boston may not go above freezing for two weeks. No more of the foot-of-snow-and-then-inch-of-rain—we might have some actual winter, at least for the next couple of weeks. More coastal storms appear in the offing, and very little melt looks to take place.

Get out and enjoy, and remember: there are 250 groomed trails in the Northeast. Find yours today.

Surprise storm post-mortem

Last week, our take on the storm would be that someone, somewhere might get better than half a foot of snow. The models shifted south on Friday night so the half foot went from a Fryeburg-Augusta line to a Concord-Kennebunk line, but it did make a hit. Driving north on Saturday morning there were dicey conditions for a 20 mile stretch of New Hampshire from Rochester to Ossipee, north of which the roads were dry. Jackson squeezed out an inch or two from the weekend, but not much more.

The bizarre thing is that the best skiing right now resides in southeastern New Hampshire and southwestern Maine. The best snow in New England may well be at Gunstock, Wolfeboro and Harris Farm. Please report if you make it there to ski.

Looking ahead, things get better, it seems. There’s a storm on Tuesday which may graze the coast—whether easternmost sections get an inch or ten is up for grabs. In addition, there’s a nice upslope event in the Western Greens, finally spreading some snow in to places like Craftsbury and Trapps, which should continue through the day. Later in the week some disturbances look to squeeze an inch or two out of the cold air, which will freshen the conditions. Beyond then, there are mixed signals a couple weeks out as to whether the cold will break in to normal winter, or whether we’ll have another rapid warm-up. The last few runs have trended in the right direction, but it’s a long ways out, and with this winter, anything is possible.

And the verdict is …

We don’t know.

We just. don’t. know.

It’s less than 24 hours from the start of an event, and the models are all over the place. Take three deep breaths and repeat after me: “the models do not handle Norlun/inverted trough/late-developing storms well.” The NWS hasn’t put out advisories for an event which is starting in barely 12 hours. No one knows.

The best case scenario? Six inches for much of New Hampshire and Maine. Maybe a foot somewhere along the line. But the worst case scenario is basically nothing, some flurries along the coast. It’s really that up for grabs. Things were lining up well with the 18Z models: six inches from Saint J to Bangor with a bullseye of a foot over the Whites. The GFS agreed with the NAM. And then, the 00Z NAM came out and just pooped the bed. Pretty much nothing.

So hang tight. Something might happen. Or it might not.

A little better all the time

Our last post was rather depressing: we were looking a cold and no snow. Well, today, we bring you a slight improvement: cold and the potential for some snow.

First the cold. It appears that we’re heading in to the polar vortex again, but shifted east a bit so that we won’t see the intrusions of warm air that punctuated our last cold snap. This is good, and should preserve what snow is left.

Second, the potential for some snow. There is a weak disturbance this weekend which has been on and off the models, but recent trends have pointed to some localized heavier Norlun/inverted trough type snows. These systems are notoriously hard to model and predict, and also notorious for surprise inches and sometimes even feet of snow. So if you wake up on Sunday morning with six inches of snow when the forecast called for zero, well, it will be a nice little surprise, won’t it. This is more likely in eastern or central New England.

Third, longer range snow. While storms eight days are are hardly worth mentioning, what is notable is that the midday runs of the American and European models both showed major snowstorms for the Northeast. The timing and existence of these storms will certainly vary, but it’s at least something to look forward to, as opposed to a week in the 40s. Hopefully we won’t see that for some time.

Cold and dry

We’re looking down the pipes at what would actually be a pretty terrific weather pattern … if there was any snow left on the ground. As it stands, there looks to be a lot of cold air around in coming days but little moisture. So maybe an inch of snow here and an inch of snow there, but nothing on the horizon—or at least the next few days—that looks to pack a good punch. If there was two feet of snow on the ground, it would be great. But there’s not. So we wait.

Weathering the non-storm, waiting on the storm

The thaw continues. East of the Whites, there is still some cover. To the west? It’s springtime.

Which may change. The pattern looks good past, uh, tomorrow. There’s a broad trough setting up centered over the Great Lakes (and far enough west to keep snow in Minneapolis, where I may or may not be headed in a couple of weeks for ski races) and on the east side of this sits New England. The teleconnections look good, and up until recently we just needed a spark to set off some of this powderkeg.

Which we may see. Signs are pointing towards a storm on Friday night, just in time for the weekend (or the pessimist would say: just in time to gum up the roads for the weekend). It could be a few inches, which would nicely freshen up anywhere which manages to keep a base. It could go towards the sea, which would be a nice snow shot for the coast. Or it could track inland, which would be a snow/rain/mix scenario depending on location.

One thing for sure: we’ll keep track of it!

The winter will rise again!

Let me rephrase that: the winter may rise again. First, this weekend. It will be a lovely weekend if you like not skiing and rain. Things have gotten slightly better; it now appears that the temperature in Northern New England will only rise in to the 30s to maybe 40, and will only stay that high for 24 hours—not the days-long thaw advertised a few days ago. It’s certainly not ideal, but it should leave some base in some areas of New England.

Then, things diverge. Some (ECMWF) models have a storm cutting inland next week, bringing more rain and warmth before it gets cold. Others (Canadian) have this storm going off the coast and putting some snow back in to New England. Still others (GFS) don’t have this storm at all but a second storm later in the week putting a nice swath of snow across most of New England. Things will change. But at least we have something to look forward to.